Gluten-free Twinkies: A money-making move?

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

A gluten-free Twinkie variant or bite sized options would be a clever move, says analyst
A gluten-free Twinkie variant or bite sized options would be a clever move, says analyst

Related tags Coeliac disease Matthew hudak

A gluten-free Twinkie would plug a market gap and hold huge appeal among US gluten-free consumers looking for indulgence and taste, says an analyst.

Twinkies officially returned to US shelves on July 15, with some outlets stocking them earlier over the weekend. New owners Apollo Group and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co have launched a mega marketing campaign with the tagline ‘the sweetest comeback in the history of ever’ – generating plenty of nationwide interest in the infamous snack cake.

With the comeback, the new owners have been toying with several novel product ideas; one being a gluten-free variant of the Twinkie.

“They haven’t ruled out making a gluten-free Twinkie… They’ve thrown a bunch of ideas up in the air,”​ said Matthew Hudak, packaged food analyst at Euromonitor International.

“The idea that they could make an indulgent gluten-free cake is interesting. The gluten-free market has an audience that would love to have something that tastes better,” ​Hudak told

Health appeal to gluten-free trend?

In the US, while there are 1 in 100 consumers with celiac disease, a large proportion of consumers interested in gluten-free products are doing so because of gluten intolerances or the perception that a gluten-free diet is healthier.

Hudak said that a gluten-free Twinkie would not only appeal to celiacs who have no other alternative, but also consumers who have chosen gluten-free for perceived health reasons.

“Even healthier consumers like indulgence. The new Twinkie owners could make it at the very least something that consumers eat as a very occasional, indulgent snack,”​ he said.

It must emulate the real Twinkie though…

However, if a new gluten-free Twinkie is launched, it would need to emulate the Twinkies already on shelf, Hudak warned. “They really have to try and nail that as best they can.”

There’s a real opportunity to develop a gluten-free, indulgent cake for the US market, he said, as big players like Udi’s and Glutino are more focused on the bagel and bread sectors.

Aside from developing a gluten-free variant, Hudak said bite size options would also be a “clever move”​ for the Twinkie.

“Bite size or snack size portions make sense for calorie counting and sharing – this would be another smart move,”​ he said. 

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I used to love so much...

Posted by Kate,

I used to love Twinkies! And marshmallow SNOWBALLS!! MMmmmm! Good memories. But that's all those are to me now--Memories. Almost like a second life. A far away life that isn't a part of me anymore. Things have changed a lot since celiac disease set in.

Most people with celiac love to read ingredient labels--and if the gluten-free twinkie label is an essay long, I'd much rather take that reading time to find a recipe and bake my own. Besides, a gluten-free Twinkie would probably be packed with GMO's, soy, milk, and all sorts of other things that will upset my digestive system. There's something about knowing exactly what I'm eating that is worth the extra time and effort to bake it in my kitchen. I'm a busy person, and I like the idea of gluten-free convenience food---but I don't buy it now, and I don't think I will buy it later...Twinkies included...

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Please Get a Life

Posted by Tobie,

I love the fact that Apollo has decided to create a new KIDs Twinkie and is thinking of the kids with Celiac. You Debbie downers with your gross versions of everything. Have you tasted your own food? If you have you know you wouldn't eat it yourself, why would a kid? Try going through an entire childhood only eating healthy food and various versions of food that tastes like crap. I say yes and thank you.

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Gluten Free Twinkies? It's been done

Posted by Deb,

Last year the folks at Gluten-Free Prairie posted an awesome recipe for gluten-free Twinkies using their GF toasted oat flour. Take that Hostess!

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